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Animal Care and Management


This page provides high level information and data on the Animal Care and Management industry, which can be described as having eight sub-sectors: Veterinary Services, Animal Breeding Services, Pet and Companion, Assistance and Therapy Animal Services, Animal Technology Services, Captive Wildlife Operations, Animal Control Services, Wildlife Care and Rehabilitation Services and Non-veterinary Health and Welfare Services.

In the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast the decision was made to no longer record hunting and trapping as a sector of the industry as there are no nationally recognised training products for recreational hunting and trapping. It has been considered more appropriate to describe these activities when conducted in a professional context, as animal control services. For more context around this decision see the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, or for more information about hunting and trapping as sector in 2018 visit the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast.

Please visit Veterinary Nursing for more specific information and data on that specific sector.

Please visit Animal Services for information and data relating to the following sectors:

  • Animal breeding services
  • Pet and companion, assistance and therapy animal services
  • Animal technology services
  • Captive wildlife operations
  • Animal control cervices
  • Wildlife care and rehabilitation services
  • Non-veterinary health and welfare services.

Nationally recognised training for Animal Care and Management is delivered under the ACM – Animal Care and Management Training Package, which is maintained and developed by the Animal Care and Management IRC.

Information sourced from the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast..

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

IRCs now submit comprehensive Skills Forecasts to the AISC every 3 years, with abridged annual updates submitted in the intervening 2 years.

Industry cluster snapshot

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment and training snapshot

In 2020, there were approximately 37,500 people employed in the Veterinary Services sector, around 18,900 employed in the Parks and Gardens Operations sector, and approximately 500 employed in the Hunting and Trapping sector. Employment levels for Veterinary Services and Parks and Gardens Operations have grown significantly since 2000 but are projected to decline by 2024 to roughly 28,300 and 17,500 respectively. Hunting and Trapping has maintained a low level of employment since peaking in 2010 at around 3,600, and is projected to decline to roughly 400 by 2024.

In addition, census data shows that there were approximately 3,500 people employed in horse farming in 2016, slightly down from approximately 3,700 in 2006.

Enrolments in Animal Care and Management-related qualifications have continued to decline since 2016 when close to 25,460 program enrolments were recorded. In 2019 there were approximately 20,490 program enrolments. Program completions steadily increased from approximately 4,980 in 2015 to 7,880 in 2018. In 2019 program completions declined to around 7,260.

Between 2015 and 2019 the vast majority of Animal Care and Management-related subjects were delivered as part of a nationally recognised program. In 2019, less than 1% of Animal Care and Management-related subjects were not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

Please visit the respective pages for more specific employment and training data on Veterinary Nursing and other Animal Services sectors.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlighted the following priority skills for the industry:

  • Companion and therapy animal skills
  • Pet grooming skills
  • Captive wildlife animal skills
  • Compassion fatigue skills
  • Ethical animal use skills
  • Animal awareness and behaviour skills
  • Emotional intelligence of animal skills.

In addition, the top generic skills identified for the Animal Care and Management industry include:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills.
  • Managerial/Leadership skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills.

The Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies a range of factors which impact on the Animal Services industry and workforce. Some of the key challenges and opportunities for the industry include:

  • Addressing the above skills shortages and skills gaps, particularly with regards to the growing companion and therapy animal sector, pet grooming industry, captive animal breeding programs and effectively managing mental health issues within the industry.
  • The opportunity to develop the industry as an employer of people with disabilities as industry training programs currently have one the highest enrolment rates of people with a disability, and link into this significant area of government policy and development.
  • There is contention between the veterinary sector and others within Animal Care and Management industry with regards to the level of skills required for equine dentistry. The Australian Veterinary Association holds the view that dental procedures on horses should only be conducted by registered veterinarians, while others would like to regulate equine dentistry with trade qualifications.
  • Close monitoring and evaluation will be needed for the new skill set Promote Animal Health in Remote Communities which has been designed to support those in indigenous and remote communities with animal health and welfare responsibilities.
  • Meeting the demand for pet and companion animal services, with growth in alternative therapies such as animal rehabilitation, physiotherapy, massage and premium animal products becoming increasingly popular with animal owners, largely attributed to increases in population and disposable incomes.

The Animal Care and Management IRC's 2020 Skills Forecast highlights that the public's interest and concern about animal welfare, care and management continues to escalate, driven by major events in Australia, including COVID-19, major bushfires, drought and concern over the welfare of horses' post work or sport involvement. The roles of pets, companion and assistance animals as a central component of human health and welfare has more recognition now, both through formal research and public attitudes. As a result, industry services are also expanding into new fields of care for animals, and current services are experiencing market growth. Current projects are addressing expansion and growth in relation to pets, companion and assistance animals, and exhibited animals. Consultation is continuing with industry to ensure outcomes that meet industry needs, both now and for the future expansion of services.

Services provided to equines have not been covered in the current projects. The Animal Care and Management IRC commissioned research into equine skills, training and workforce needs. Two key issues to be addressed were identified and are proposed as new projects for 2020–21:

Project 1: Equine Care Careers – Industry are looking for improved practical skills training for new employees and a stronger vocational pathway. It is recommended that existing qualifications and skills standards are reviewed and repackaged to enable a variety of job outcomes and reduce complexity in the vocational education and training system. Skills standards need to be revised to meet industry expectations for practical skills in handling traditional and modern equine tools, horse safety, horse behaviour and horse welfare.

Project 2: Pre-Requisite Barriers To Training – The aim of this project is to remove barriers to training and to strengthen skills in horse safety, behaviour and welfare. Extensive industry consultation and feedback from the IRC-led Equine Industry Survey has suggested that pre-requisite units should be removed. More effective on-going learning could be achieved by embedding horse safety, behaviour and welfare skills in every practical unit of competency. This will negate the need for pre-requisite units and remove barriers to developing specialist skills and knowledge. It will also ensure the robustness and consistency of training, and will reflect the holistic approach to equine welfare that survey participants overwhelmingly demanded.

COVID-19 impact

COVIDSafe plans were developed and implemented across the Animal Care and Management industry. Veterinary clinics and related services, including on-farm visits and visits to veterinary clinics, were permitted to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Zoos and aquariums were closed to the public as part of the pandemic restrictions across the country. In April 2020, the Federal Government announced a Funding Lifeline for Australia's Zoos and Aquariums – a $94.6 million support package to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis. The funding was to assist exhibiting zoos and aquariums with the fixed operational costs associated with caring for their animals, while also helping to ensure Australian zoos and aquariums remained viable and ready to welcome visitors when restrictions were eased.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, vocational education and training providers had to adapt their course delivery to encompass a combination of remote and flexible delivery methods. For example, at Kangan Institute this included easy to navigate online tutorials, interactive learning (using a mix of live demonstrations and the ability to connect with classmates and teachers for support) as well as face-to-face practical assessments and work placements – where safe and practical to implement. Students therefore required access to the internet and a computer to undertake their courses. This sort of flexible model allowed students to continue to study in a safe, guided and fully supported manner with continued access to all learning, personal and wellbeing supports.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Relevant research

Animal Studies Courses – Kangan Institute

COVID-19: AVA Working Group Update – Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)

COVID-19: Risk Management for Workplaces V2 – Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)

Funding Lifeline for Australia's Zoos and Aquariums – Joint media release by the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and the Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Animal Care Australia (ACA)

Animal Ethics Committees

Animal Health Australia (AHA)

Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC)

Animal Medicines Australia (AMA)

Animal Therapies Ltd

Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA)

Association of Pet Boarding and Grooming (APBG)

Association of Pet Dog Trainers Australia (APDT)

Australasian Animal Studies Association (AASA)

Australasian Association of Equine Dentistry (AAED)

Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping (ASZK)

Australasian Veterinary Boards Council Inc (AVBC)

Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association (ANZLAA)

Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders Inc (AAPDB)

Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders (AASMB)

Australian Cat Federation Inc (ACF)

Australian Horse Industry Council (AHIC)

Australian Institute of Animal Management (AIAM)

Australian National Cats Inc (ANCATS)

Australian National Kennel Council Ltd (ANKC)

Australian Pig Breeders Association Ltd (APBA)

Australian Registered Cattle Breeders' Association (ARCBA)

Australian Standardbred Breeders Association (ASBA)

Australian Stock Horse Society

Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association (ASSBA)

Australian Trainers Association (ATA)

Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)

Cat Protection Society of NSW

Dog Groomers Association of Western Australia Inc (DGAWA)

Dogs Australia

Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ)

Equestrian Australia (EA)

Equine Dental Association of Australia Inc (EDAA)

Equine Veterinarians Australia Group

Guide Dogs Australia

Horse SA

International Association of Equine Dentistry (IAED)

National Animal Technology Educators Forum (NATEF)

National Parks Association of NSW

National Parks Association of Queensland Inc

National Parks Association of the ACT Inc

National Parks Australia Council Inc (NPAC)

Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (NCSSA)

NSW Cat Fanciers Association Inc (NSW CFA)

NSW Marine Estate

NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc (WIRES)

Parks and Leisure Australia

Parks Australia

Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)

Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA)

Pets Australia

Responsible Pet Breeders Australia (RPBA)

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA)

Taronga Zoo

Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA)

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA)

Vertebrate Pest Managers Association Australia (VPMAA)

Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA)

WA Horse Council (WAHC)

Wildlife Health Australia (WHA)

Wildlife Victoria

WorldWide Association of Equine Dentistry (WWAED)

Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA)


Employee associations

Australian Workers Union (AWU)

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)

Professionals Australia


Regulatory bodies

ACT Veterinary Practitioners Board

Veterinary Board of Tasmania

Veterinary Board of the NT

Veterinary Practitioners Board of New South Wales

Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria

Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland

Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia

Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of Western Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 042 Hunting and Trapping
    • 697 Veterinary Services
    • 892 Parks and Gardens Operations.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter
    • 042 Hunting and Trapping
    • 697 Veterinary Services
    • 892 Parks and Gardens Operations.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 4 digit industry
    • 0191 Horse Farming.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the Animal Care and Management Training Package.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 05 Nov 2020
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